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Carbon-neutral pathways of recycling marine plastic waste

Project description

Green processes for cleaner oceans

Extensive pollution of oceans poses a significant threat to our health, the marine ecosystem and the future of our planet. Every year, an estimated 9 to 23 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the waters, and this problem has only been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increased use of single-use plastic sanitary products like face masks. The EU-funded CUPOLA project aims to develop a ground-breaking and sustainable process for recycling marine plastic waste by designing thermal and thermochemical technologies that can transform it into valuable commodity. CUPOLA brings together researchers and some of the most renowned scientists from multiple disciplines, exchanging knowledge, and assessing feasibility through economic and technological analyses.


Plastic pollution in the ocean causes severe damage to marine life and raises growing global environmental concerns. The harm to marine life and pollution to the ecosystem is devastating our oceans and is causing negative connections to human health. According to EU Legislation Research, an estimated 9 to 23 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans every year, and the associated cost is between €485 million and €1,259 million. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in demand for single-use plastic, aggravating the long-lasting marine waste problem with an estimated 1.56 billion face masks have entered oceans in 2020 and even more in 2021. This project aims to develop sustainable, scalable, and profitable waste management processes for marine plastics. The automated plastic waste management and product innovation processes aim for environmental sustainability. Extensive training and knowledge exchange activities will be carried out among the world-leading scientist group through a total of 160 person-months of structured staff exchanges between 15 research institutes.

The scientists in this group share the common objective to develop the CUPOLA processes for marine plastic waste recycling. Thermal and thermochemical conversion technologies will be applied to produce high-value marketable products. Full process modelling, techno-economic and life cycle analysis will be carried out to provide vital information about the feasibility of the novel process. CUPOLA will create a multi-disciplinary consortium consisting of process engineers, chemists, environmental scientists, and process modellers, and develop the innovative and economic waste-to-product process, closing the gap in the circular economy. It will produce multiple avenues for career development, cross-sectorial experience, and academic training in a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary and intersectoral environment, and lead to achieving SDGs 3, 12 and 14.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 92 000,00
30-059 Krakow

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Makroregion południowy Małopolskie Miasto Kraków
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Participants (1)

Partners (13)